As one goes through life, one learns if you don’t paddle your own canoe you don’t move.
Sometimes when my husband and I are out on the lake canoeing, it feels like we’re the last of a dying breed. Forget that a canoe on a lake in Maine is an iconic image. Everyone’s a kayaker these days — there even seem to be more paddleboards than canoes.
But I like ’em. I tried and failed to convert to a kayak. I also feel like a little kid peering over the top of a too-big table every time I am in a kayak. A canoe forces you to sit high, find your balance, and pay attention.
The problem in Maine is that too many people are abandoning canoes. There is a charming tradition that you can leave your canoe in the woods near any lake you enjoy, and use it anytime you return. It saves hauling the canoe back and forth. You’re also welcome to use any canoe you find in the woods, as long as you return it to the spot where you found it.
This happy custom is now an issue in Maine, as hundreds of canoes have been left to rot in the woods. Communities and landowners are coming up with ways to mark and remove some of the abandoned canoes over time, but it’s a slow process.
By mid-February, many classrooms have their own abandoned canoes—shared resources that have turned into eyesores. There is the litter of learning on walls and in nooks and crannies—anchor charts with messy writing curling at the corners with age, catchall baskets of seldom-used supplies.
If your classroom is invitational, with students being able to choose which resources they will use, then you will have some invitations that are declined. It’s a good thing some charts aren’t used, some baskets are ignored, some supplies gather dust. It’s a sign of movement and growth.
February is a great time to roll up your sleeves with students and look at the classroom with new eyes. What’s been abandoned in place and needs to be stowed away? The same principle works for literacy work rooms for coaches. Sizing up and clearing out materials that aren’t used refreshes the landscape during a month when everything feels like a bit of a slog.
This week we look at revision minilessons in the intermediate grades. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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Christy Rush-Levine finds her middle school students are adept at planning for writing with notes and visuals, but rarely revise their drafts. She develops a minilesson sequence to help them hone their revision skills.
Franki Sibberson shares a lesson progression to help students learn how to give helpful revision feedback. She uses online videos and resources to support her work.
Kate Messner gives a detailed and fascinating explanation of her revision process for the novel Breakout, including lots of examples to use with students.
We hope you’ll make our online course program part of your personal improvement plan this winter. Instructors include Ruth Ayres, Katherine Sokolowski, Dana Murphy and many others. Topics in the self-paced classes include student research projects, smarter reading conferences, and better coaching cycles. Members receive discounts of 20-40% on course fees, and nonmembers receive three-month trial memberships to the website.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
If your students are equating revision with proofreading and final cleanups, Tara Barnett and Kate Mills have some practical revision strategies you might want to try.
Melanie Meehan finds that a “lift the flap” strategy works for showing students different revision options with dialogue.
In this week’s video, Christy Rush-Levine presents a minilesson to her eighth-grade students about revising their literary analysis essays, using an analogy about putting furniture together.
In an encore video, Heather Rader shares a process for teaching peer editing and revision skills that helps students learn how to assist each other kindly during writing workshop.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
Matt Renwick explains how the Never Again protocol for professional development sessions can help teachers rethink and revise their literacy practices.
Is there anything more difficult than getting a student to trim a too-long writing draft? Tammy Mulligan confers with fifth grader Noah and uses her own writing as a mentor text to show how she faced a similar challenge. The demonstration conference includes a prebrief and a debrief with Noah’s teacher.
Instead of “What’s your passion?,” the better question might be, “What problem would you like to help solve?” Fahd Alhattab asks this question of recent high school graduates, but it’s also a worthwhile one for leaders to ponder and use with their colleagues.
Maybe there are things you can’t necessarily measure. But in the end maybe they’re more important than anything you can measure.
That’s all for this week!